Date lodged: 20 June 2018
To ask the Scottish Government whether it has introduced a legal ban on fracking.
Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 17 July 2018
The Scottish Government continues to take a cautious, evidence-led approach to considering unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.
On 19 June 2018, the Court of Session rejected a petition by INEOS Upstream Ltd and Reach Coal Seam Gas Ltd that sought to challenge the Scottish Government’s actions in relation to unconventional oil and gas. As recognised by Lord Pentland at paragraph 49 of his judgment, Ministers were referring back to the combined effect of the moratorium and the preferred policy position when stating that the Government’s actions were sufficient to effectively ban the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.
Following a far-reaching review of evidence and an extensive public consultation, the Scottish Government outlined that their preferred policy position is not to support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland. This preferred policy is subject to the conclusion of the relevant statutory assessments including a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), and Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA). Both assessments are underway in line with commitments given in October 2017.
In the meantime, as also explained in October 2018, a moratorium is in place which means no local authority can grant planning permission and Ministers would defer any decision on any planning application that did come forward until the policymaking process is completed. The practical effect of the current moratorium, and the policymaking process which is underway to finalise our position, is that no fracking can take place in Scotland at this time. We hope to be in a position to have concluded the statutory assessment by the end of the calendar year.
Lord Pentland’s Opinion can be found on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website at: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/docs/default-source/cos-general-docs/pdf-docs-for-opinions/2018csoh66.pdf?sfvrsn=0